Reserve covers 1450 acres, about half of which is saltmarsh and
mudflats, while the rest comprises farmland, copses, lagoons, reedbeds
and shingle beaches.
is a tremendously important site for breeding, passage and wintering
waders and wildfowl. Huge flocks of Dunlin, Ringed Plover,
Wigeon and Pintail occur, among many others, such
as Brent Geese and almost all the other winter waders. Terns
breed in some numbers, as do Ringed Plovers. Peregrines
are almost ever-present these days, breeding as they do on nearby
a wintering gathering of Slavonian Grebes is a highlight
- 20+ is a regular count, while the record is over 50! Great
Northern Divers and "white-winged" gulls sometimes
occur too, along with passing seabirds, including Arctic Skua
Ferry pool and the adjacent sewage works and agricultural fields
attract plenty of waders and other migrants, and Water Pipits
are regular in spring and winter.
can occur in the area - highlights in recent years have included
Trumpeter Finch, Booted Warbler, Collared Pratincole,
Collared Flycatcher, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Long-billed
Dowitcher, Marsh Sandpiper, Kentish Plover,
Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes, Tawny Pipit and Aquatic
Selsey Bill is best-known for its seabird
potential - in former years, it was also a well-known passerine
migration spot, but house building has severely limited the potential
of late. Nevertheless, scarce migrants like Hoopoe, Serin
and other overshoots are seen annually.
Seabird passage is at its best in spring,
with the big feature being Pomarine Skua, which pass through
in the first three weeks of May. Each year, one birder inherits
the title "Selsey Pom King", awarded for the highest total
count of the spring. Other birds to be seen include all the regular
up-Channel migrants, especially terns, scoter, Manx
Shearwater, Arctic Skua and sometimes Storm Petrels.
Autumn passage is much less predictable, but is inevitably best
after major storms. At this season, Bonxies tend to feature
The neighbouring fields to the west around
Bracklesham have recently been purchased by the RSPB and have a
great deal of potential - they held a Buff-breasted Sandpiper
a few years ago, and on one speculative autumn visit, we ourselves
found Wryneck and Monarch Butterfly there.